Unfortunately, many students are terrified by the thought of paying for a Christian college. At least once a day, I hear the comment, “I’d love to go to this university, but I do not think I can afford it.” Some students are so convinced that they cannot afford a Christian college that they do not even apply.
I completely understand this fear. As a high school senior, I was very intimidated at the thought of paying for college. I wanted to go to a Christian college and I had heard rumors that these schools were expensive. I was clueless when it came to scholarships and the term “FAFSA” was nothing more than gibberish to me. Fortunately, the admissions counselor at my college of choice was an expert and quickly opened my eyes to the possibility of affording a private Christian education.
Yes, the Christian institution that you are considering may have a higher sticker price than your local state college. However, many people do not realize that the final cost may be quite different once financial aid is factored in. Many Christian colleges and universities offer various types of financial aid, which help cut down costs and could make attending your dream school a reality!
As you begin to contemplate costs, there are a few tips to try and factors to consider:
- Complete your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) regardless of your financial status. The FAFSA could potentially provide you with thousands of dollars in federal or state aid. Even if you do not qualify for government aid, some colleges offer their own need-based grants, which are based on the information provided on your FAFSA. Your college may have a different standard of “need” than the federal government and you may qualify for more than you expect.
- Talk to your Admissions Counselor and/or Financial Aid Counselor to find out what institutional scholarships are offered by their respective college. Most colleges offer academic scholarships to students who have achieved a particular GPA and/or test score. In addition, many colleges offer scholarships to students who are involved in a particular major or extracurricular activity. You may also want to ask about scholarships for children of alumni, children of pastors, or any other opportunities that may be unique to your particular college.
- Apply for private scholarships. These are scholarships that are funded by private organizations. From academic achievement and essay writing, to having red hair or being left handed, there are hundreds of private scholarships out there for things that you may have never considered! Do some research and see what opportunities are out there. A few of my favorite scholarship websites are www.fastweb.com and http://scholarshipamerica.org/.
- Consider the investment. Attending a private Christian university is a life-changing experience unlike any other. Not only will you receive a quality academic foundation, but you will have the opportunity to learn in an environment in which students are equipped to become Christian leaders in their respective fields. Most Christian colleges offer small class sizes, personal interaction with professors, spiritual growth opportunities, and ensure that their students will graduate on time. I cannot put a price tag on my years at my university. Those four years are priceless to me.
Remember that it is always okay to contact your Admissions Office if you have questions! I guarantee you that your admissions counselor understands. We have all been there. I am praying for you and your classmates as you begin to consider these things and as you begin to prepare for this exciting new chapter in your life!